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Park & Pedal Program Encourages Commuters To Bike The Last Few Miles To Work

Cyclists ride down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Cyclists ride down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Sitting in Boston traffic during your commute can often be unbearable. But a new program called Park & Pedal is encouraging people to leave their cars — and frustration — behind and bike the last few miles to work.

Park & Pedal aims to get people to park their cars at lots just outside the city and bike the last leg of their commute. The goals of the program are to help ease congestion, increase available parking in the city and decrease the amount of time people spend in their cars. Officials believe it's the first of its kind in the country.

"Park & Pedal provides sort of a stepping stone to avoid the last few miles of congestion coming into the city to avoid the cost of parking downtown and to get some exercise on the way into work," Ryan Walas, the marketing director at Cambridge-based bicycle manufacturer Montague Bikes, told WBUR's Newscast unit.

The program represents a public and private partnership between Montague Bikes, whose founder came up with the idea, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, as well as nonprofits and local businesses.

Montague Bikes's founder David Montague parked and pedaled to work for years.

"Park & Pedal removes two key barriers that people face when considering riding to work, by allowing them to choose how far to ride and where they feel comfortable riding," Montague said in a statement.

The program, which launched Friday, utilizes a mix of existing state and privately operated parking lots — all with free parking. There are currently seven lots in the program, in locations like Brighton, Watertown, Newton, Medford and Revere. The group has plans to expand in the future.

The program targets people driving into the city from the suburbs who often have commutes that are too long for them to bike the whole way.

"We’d love it if a car wasn’t part of the equation, but most people are not willing or not able to ride the entire distance from home to work with so many people coming in from the suburbs," Walas said.

But what about Boston's harsh winters? Walas said the program will be flexible.

"Cycling obviously is a little bit seasonal; there’s plenty of die-hard commuters that will bike in any weather," he said. "We’d love to see it continue in the wintertime. A lot of the [parking] lots are already existing lots that should be cleared and usable in the wintertime as well."

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